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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Outside Ireland

St Patrick's Day around the World

As St. Patrick’s Day celebrations get underway in Ireland, millions of people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day outside Ireland. There are now more Irish people living outside of Ireland than in the country itself. It stands to reason that the Irish diaspora want to celebrate their national holiday wherever they may be!

I have spent St. Patrick’s Day outside Ireland more often than at home in the last 5 years. However, I can’t truly say I celebrated it abroad. Then again, my approach at home is similar (I avoid the parade like the plague!) Growing up in Ireland, I always loved watching the news to see celebrations around the world.

While the Irish diaspora is spread across the globe (check out this interactive map here), there are some places that have more established celebrations. You would not believe some of the places I have come across Irish pubs (Expedia are even trying to map them!) Some countries even surpass Irish celebrations in terms of size. So grab a pint or a cupán tae and marvel at the many places you can celebrate Patrick, Pat, Paddy (just NEVER Patty…please!)

New York City, U.S.A

Via Karen at Wanderlusting K.

New York City has one of the most famous St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world. Although the percent of New Yorkers who identify as Irish have decreased over time due to significant immigration in New York, everyone, regardless of their background, is given a free pass on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate with proud Irish-Americans.

St. Patrick's Day Outside Ireland

Photo courtesy of Diana Robinson (CC)

The parade itself is a great show with music from the New York Police Department (NYPD) and New York Fire Department (FDNY) among other groups. Otherwise, you can visit the neighbourhood Irish bars to be welcomed in for a green beer with everyone else who enters.  Just be aware that the trains are often a mess (in terms of schedules and cleanliness) after all the partying and the massive influx of bridge-and-tunnel commuters coming in to celebrate the holiday.  Wear some green and enjoy a green beer!

Sydney, Australia

Via Ciara at Irish Travel Key.

St. Patrick's Day Around the World

In 2010 (I can’t believe that’s 7 years ago now) I arrived in Sydney the morning of St Patrick’s Day. All by myself, I arrived in Bondi Beach, Very scared and nervous I walked into my hostel ‘Hi my name’s Ciara’ and off I went to the pub, that night with all my new friends. It was possibly a great day to arrive solo.

As the night continued I left early and decided to make my way home, me being new got lost, but I got home and ended up going for a swim a 3 in the morning. So that was a memorable experience for a St Patrick’s Day. That following Sunday, a St Patrick’s Day festival was held in Hyde Park in the city centre. A group of 7/8 of us went, chilling out in the sun, listening the concert and of course being fresh of the boat I was sucked into buying overpriced Bulmers and Taytos.

Berlin, Germany

Via Joy at Joyful Antidotes.

Berlin is not the place I expected to have a good St. Patrick’s Day party but, then again, it is the party capital of Central Europe. Many Irish related events happen over the March period but I always choose the yearly event with Irish music and, of course, Guinness and whisky. It usually takes places in some funky Berlin building and is a good time to meet fellow Irish expats, but also locals who are in love with our country.

In the past, I have been to the parade here (which unfortunately doesn’t happen anymore). It doesn’t have the standard floats you see at home but anyone can take part, leading to streams of green and music blaring in Berlin’s streets. I’ve also had the more “traditional” St. Patrick’s Day here – heading off to the pub for the day. There are many Irish pubs in Berlin, some more authentic than others, but all offering a good time.

St. Patrick's Day Around the World

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Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam

Via Isabelle at Paleo Survival Guide.

In March 2016 I skipped the Dublin City Parade and headed off to Vietnam, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Myself and my (ex) boyfriend had gone to explore South East Asia for a few weeks. Asian cuisine, gorgeous architecture and fascinating history- safe to say it was an easy choice of destination! By the time March 17th came around I was in Vietnam. Not surprisingly I didn’t see one green flag in sight but I did see Donna Karan (of DKNY) as we were in the same café. So far the day was beating standing around town getting rained on

Being a foodie, I was keen to experience some Vietnamese cooking, so I booked us into a cookery course in Ho Chi Mihn. After tucking into the many dishes we had made during the class, we hopped on our mopeds and headed to the Saigon Opera House to watch a contemporary dance show, that told a beautiful story of Vietnams humble beginnings.

St. Patrick's Day Around the World

Check out some more foodie snaps on Isabelle’s Instagram.

This year myself and 6 pals are going to be in Brazil for Paddys day. I always slightly miss spending it at home, but I’ll always carry that Irishness in my heart no matter where I’m travelling. And coming to think of it, I climbed Croagh Patrick on New Years day 2017- so that just about covers me for missing St. Patricks day in Ireland again this year, right?

Chicago, U.S.A

Via Leigh at Campfires and Concierges.

Chicago does St Patrick’s Day in a big way.  Chicago has a long history of Irish heritage and St Patrick’s day has become a week-long celebration in the Windy City, with several parades.  The downtown parade is usually the Saturday before March 17th and the South Side Irish Parade (once cancelled for rowdiness) is the following day.  One main attraction is the Chicago River, which is dyed bright green every year by the Chicago Plumber’s Union.  Hundreds of thousands of people flood the streets and bars to celebrate and drink green beer.

St. Patrick's Day Around the World

March weather is crazy and unpredictable.  We’ve had snowy St. Patrick’s Days and days nearing 80 degrees, so you must be prepared for anything.  Cold weather does not stop us from celebrating, though!

Having lived in Chicago for most of my post-college life, I’ve celebrated St Patrick’s day in many ways.  From Guinness for breakfast followed by all-day drinking in my 20’s, riding a trolley in the parade for a bachelorette party in my 30’s, and kayaking in the green-dyed river in my 40’s.  St Patrick’s Day in Chicago is a unique experience that should not be missed!

St. Patrick's Day Around the World

Boston, U.S.A

Via Gail at Glam Force Blog.

New England has a special place in my heart. The area is known for having true seasons, yet like Ireland it is also known to experience all four seasons in one day! The city of Boston in particular feels like home. Hence, I hopped a plane a few years back to attend the more traditional take on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, over it’s larger counterpart in New York.

Upon arrival in Southie, the atmosphere is electric. The Irish and Irish at heart amass, children and adults alike wide-eyed with anticipation. The bars are open, the bunting is up and the sidewalks ooze a whole lot of green, a level of Irish pride that sets the stage for what’s to come.

St. Patrick's Day outside Ireland

The Minutemen taken from Gail’s Instagram.

Notable differences in Southie were that, “saving your place” (kicking back in deckchairs ) is an acceptable form of saving one’s place along the sidewalks. Also, Historical Societies and figures such as The Minutemen took pride of place along with a show of military pride and might, showcasing military veterans and vehicles. Local politicians take part, waving and throwing lollipops into the crowd. Beads are a big thing too. The more you collect it seems, the better, to be worn like a badge of honour.

When it was all over and people packed up their deck chairs for another year, all that was left was a trail of glitter, green and the memories of what being Irish means to our diaspora in Boston. Every time I visit Boston, I leave a little bit of my heart there and Irish or not, I think you will too.

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St Patrick's Day around the World


18 thoughts on “Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Outside Ireland

  1. Katherine

    How cool is Chicago! That green water is a sight. And I’m glad to hear that Australia put on a good show for you, even if we stung you with overpriced cider. We’re terrible at events like that. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

  2. Julianne

    I had no idea that there are more Irish people living outside of Ireland than in the country itself! Wow. I love that you did a collaborative post for St. Patrick’s Day, and it was fun to see NYC featured! I actually watched the parade there yesterday — it was hectic, but lots of cheer!

  3. Gracie

    This is cool. I know St. Patrick’s day is a big thing for Westerners. I hope to experience it someday! Btw, that river is really green!

  4. danik

    Great collab here. Never the one to celebrate ‘Lets pretend to be Irish and get drunk day” but always love finding an Irish bar anywhere in the world for a pint of the black stuff.

  5. Mike Cotton

    I can’t think of better places outside of Ireland to celebrate St Patricks Day than New York or Boston. I think Yank loves celebrating more than the Irish. Surprised to see Vietnam in the equation but it’s awesome to see this day is celebrated everywhere.

  6. Micki

    I love Boston, it has a special place in my heart as well! Although, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago sounds like a ton of fun. Thanks for the world tour!

  7. Stella the Travelerette

    Of all of these, I would most like to see St. Patrick’s day in Chicago. I love the green river and it makes me think of the scene with the St. P Day parade in The Fugitive. But I also like the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New Orleans. It’s not too cold and they throw cabbages to people!

  8. Only By Land

    St Patrick’s Day is such a huge event, I was in Iceland and the Irish bars were full of Irish there celebrating! It’s interesting to see it stretches as far as Ho Chi Minh City too!

  9. Ana Ojha

    What a great roundup of St. Patrick’s Day celebration across the world. I visited Chicago last year during St. Patrick’s day and it was fun to watch the parade and the green river!

  10. Erin Leigh

    What a fun post! I would love to be in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day one year. I’ve heard great things about the festivities in Chicago as well – and I’m sure Boston is amazing, too!

  11. Wanderlust Vegans

    There does seem to be people with Irish ancestry all over the world and there seems to be an Irish pub in every city we go to. It’s cool that people like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It must be kind of weird to see, as an Irish person, all these celebrations.

  12. Harsh Gupta

    I used to see all those hastags about St. Patrick’s day but never took interest in reading about it. Thanks for your insightful and interesting blog, I now know what exactly it is and how people celebrate it. Nice.

  13. Carola

    I like these anecdotes. Of course, the US is almost more famous for their St Patrick’s Day festivities than Ireland. But I liked how some of the ladies ending up making the day special, regardless of where they were in the world.

    Happy continued travels!

  14. Archana Singh

    That’s a good list for anyone planning to be a part of St. Patrick’s day celebration around the world. Unfortunately I have not seen it anywhere yet. Hopefully next year I would. Thanks for sharing.